Japan in Canada: A Short History of the Upcoming Powell Street Festival in Vancouver

The first Japanese immigrants, in 1877, began a community that was and will still be, for years to come, uniquely Japanese. This community is situated around the Hastings Mill and Waterfront (today’s Downtown Eastside (DTES)), on the traditional unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil- Waututh First Nations. The community continued to grow in large numbers until the mid 1920s. Paueru Gai, during the 1920s, became known as the centre of Japanese Canadian economic activity and property ownership.

Vancouverites from across the city would come to Powell St. to experience culture and commerce.

After the wartime internment of all Japanese descendants, Paueru Gai became, for a period of time, neighbourhood that was vacant and experienced economic downturn. For those who returned to Vancouver after the war, the Vancouver Japanese Language School served as an important centre of Japanese culture.
In the 1970s, a collection of efforts emerged to honour Japanese Canadian history in the neighbourhood.

In 1977, the Japanese Canadian centennial year, Powell Street Festival was initiated by a member of the Japanese Canadian Volunteers Association (Tonari Gumi). PSF celebrates the history of Japanese Canadians in the area through an event similar to the festivals, or matsuri, of Japan. In addition to being a platform for Japanese Canadian arts performers to showcase their talents, the festival engages the broader community through fun cultural activities, volunteer opportunities, and of course, delicious food.
This year, the 43rd annual Powell Street Festival will be held from Aug 3-4, 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. in, of course, the Powell Street area. The events are free. Please, visit the powellstreetfestival.com for more information

Information from the Powell Street Festival Society’s official website: http://www.powellstreetfestival.com/